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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why You Should Care about Equal Marriage

Quite often when I'm reading news stories about the struggle for marriage equality, I notice reader comments - over and over again - to the effect that, "Oh well, the government should just get out of the marriage business entirely, the government shouldn't tell you who you can love," etc.

Which is such a juvenile, brainless, totally non-comprehending attitude.  It makes me want to slap somebody.  Hard.

So for all the party boys and dickheads out there who still have not got a fucking clue, I'm going to say it again:  Marriage is not about "who you can love."  Nobody gives a crap who you love, butthead.

Marriage is all about making other people leave you the hell alone, and keep their goddamn hands off you and your money and your property

Can you hear it any plainer than that?

Marriage, at the bottom line, is not about love and romance and crepe-paper hearts and sentimental songs.  That's a wedding.  Try to get it straight in your mind, goober.

Marriage is a safety zone for two people protected by the full force of the law.  It makes the two of you a family; which love alone absolutely does not.  It makes, forces, all the rest of the world to respect that bond between you, and that boundary around you.  Which they will.not.do. unless the law compels them.

And that means you get to keep your car, your house, your bank account, your furniture, your belongings, your pictures, and your privacy and your dignity.  You, the two of you, get to decide what happens when life takes a turn for the worse, and not your greedy-ass relatives - stop and think about it, bud - and not some we-know-what's-best-for-you stranger.

Case in point, via Joe.My.God. from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a legal rights group now taking this case to court:
Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.
Are you getting this picture?  Notice that these guys had all the legal paperwork like wills and medical directives already done - and still they were trashed, spit on, walked over, and shoved aside.

Because they were not married.  Just that one little word is worth more than all the paperwork in the world.  Just say that one word, and everybody backs off, stops, calls off the dogs, and shuts the fuck up.

Don't think it can't happen to you, pretty little thing.  You won't always be young and beautiful and the center of an adoring crowd.  One day you too will be old and gray, and utterly invisible to all the cool young sexy studs.  One day you too will want a little circle of peace and security in which you can live out your life with someone who truly cares about you and not your wardrobe.  And that day is coming at you a helluva lot sooner than you think, buster - long before you need a walker or a wheelchair.

So wise up and give a damn.  Marriage is not about declaring your love, it's about protecting it - and protecting yourself and protecting the person you chose to share your life with.  Trust me on this, guys.  I could tell you stories.


Ultra Dave said...

Absolutely great post Russ! It is exactly as you say, it has to be marriage!

Russ Manley said...

Thanks Dave. People just won't respect anything less.

dave said...

Good Post, Russ. We cannot be flippant about this - it's too important - for everyone.

Russ Manley said...

Agreed. Not everyone needs to be married, but everyone needs the option.

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